Players, coaches, and families of the U15 Cochrane Rockies Tier 1 team are still hovering on Cloud 9 after returning from an international tournament of a lifetime in Las Vegas, NV with a gold medal.

A unique brightly-coloured banner will stand out wherever it is hung from the U14AA division of the Las Vegas Jr. Knights MLK Tournament, Jan. 13-15, hosted by Weekend Hockey Tournament.

The team accepted the challenge of moving up to a higher division to test their mettle against 'AA' teams in their pool, all of which were from the United States.

They finished the round-robin with wins against Colorado and Illinois and tied Montana before beating the Treasure States Royals, 3-2, in the semifinals. Then they played their hearts out in a 4-0 win over a Chicago team to earn gold.

"To celebrate a win down there, where I expect there wasn't that much confidence going into the AA division that we had a chance, is a huge for everyone, the team, coaches, and parents." says head coach Craig Lane. "It's pretty unbelievable, quite an experience. We may even have to do it again next year."

Coach Lane explains they were looking for one more tournament this season and were unsuccessful in finding one until they connected with Weekend Hockey. The team jumped at it, and an eager group of 53 players, coaches, and families made their way to Vegas.

Lane remembers his first thoughts when seeing the eye-catching banner.

"As soon as we walked through the doors of the rink on the first day, I saw that, and I said, we've got to take that thing home. The fact that we got to do it was pretty special," says Coach Lane.

Many of the kids were experiencing the larger-and-life entertainment hub of Nevada for the first time and along the way enjoyed a game between the NHL's Vegas Golden Knights and Florida Panthers. They also got to check out the Golden Knights practice the next day.

"This will be a tournament the players, coaches, and parents won’t forget," says Kristi Lane, the team's tournament coordinator. "These memories will last a lifetime, and winning the gold medal championship was the icing on the cake."

The Rockies have a perfect two-win record in tournament play, having won an earlier one in Calgary. Coach Lane says now the focus is on their play in the Central Alberta Hockey League. Drawing close to playoffs, they're currently in the middle of the pack with a 9-3-1 record. They aspire to win the league and advance to provincials, and the Vegas win is providing plenty of inspiration.

"It's going to help push them forward for the rest of the season," says Lane. "Bringing everyone together, team cohesion is hugely important."

"It's a pretty memorable season with a great group of kids. Everyone's bought in, and there's a really good dynamic in the dressing one, It's pretty awesome to see a bunch of the kids, 13, 14, 15, getting along so well in the room, and coming together as a team."

Vegas winPlayers with the Vegas Vivas! cheerleaders at the Vegas Golden Knights game against the Florida Panthers on Jan. 12.